Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Muhammarah: My New Nut Butter

There's been a lot of talk of all these new nut butters on the scene. For various reasons, people are beginning to experiment with their indulgent sandwich spreads, and if it's not homemade nowadays, it's just not cool. I admit, even I've dabbled in some almond butter and even some hazelnut butter (let's be real, it's nutella) and yes, they were very delicious, if I may say so my self but how about those non-sweet teeths? The savoury preferrers? We deserve our own cravings to be quenched don't we? 

This is by no means a new recipe, I'd like to imagine it was being made way beyond the times of nut butters and food processors, probably with a mortar and pestle actually. I like to picture these scenarios a lot because the recipe originates from my ancestors hometown of Aleppo and I like to imagine my grandma and her possy of ladies making all of these delicious recipes the old fashioned way. 

Like I said, Muhammarah is sort of the savoury tooth's nut butter. Usually, it would be described as a red pepper and walnut spread but I think my adaptation is more of a walnut and red pepper spread. 

Give it a go whether you have a sweet tooth or not, it's pretty delicious as a mayo, mustard, ketchup or nut butter replacement or even just to dip some veggies into!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Brunching: Ricotta and Mushroom 'Bacon' With Honey and Chilli on Sourdough

When people ask me what I'm doing with my life I jokingly say I'm a 'lady of leisure'. Sadly, that's not the case. Of course, I'm at home a lot of the day and this could qualify me as a lady of leisure, however,  ladies of leisure are usually perfectly manicured, with just-blow-dried hair and uncreased (and cake-batter-less) clothes. Most importantly, ladies of leisure are usually ladies who leisurely lunch.

Well, I believe we all deserve delicious lunches/brunches, whatever the length. Whatever restraints that are keeping you're hands tied behind your back (possibly literally) or dragging you away from that white table cloth and water in a wine glass, 'Brunching', my weekly dose of extremely simple, extremly delicious l(br)unch recipes will help you achieve ultimate brunch satisfaction in no-time.

This week, I had something truly delicious. When I instagrammed the picture, I got a message almost immediately from my best friend, who recently became kosher (AKA bacon is a no no). The message said, "Manu, WHAT is mushroom bacon?!" I could hear the urgency and withdrawal symptoms behind those words. I'm sure you're wondering too. Well, it's nothing epiphanic, but it's really delicious and if I may say so myself, plays the protein role well. You could say it's bacon's understudy.

The 'Brunching' part of this dish is that you can get you're mushrooms in the oven and run off for 40 minutes or so to do whatever if it is that makes you the leisure-less lady that you are. You can also skip the other components of this dish (although I'd try it once in your life) and use the mushroom 'bacon' somewhere else.

Happy Brunching!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Cookies and Milk Shot Cups

I know I always say the sweet stuff is not my thing but I am a feeder, always have been always will be and if sweet stuff is what the people want, that is what they'll get. 

I have to admit, I do have a soft spot for milk and cookies though. These cookie shot cups are impostors of Dominique Ansel's 'Milk and Cookie Shots'. My attempt isn't totally accurate but I did the research and a lot of work goes into making it, (you'd think this guy was a neurosurgeon in another life) and let's be real, aint nobody got time for that. Mine are much easier, you could call it cheating. Monsieur Ansel would probably give me a smack for my lack of authenticity, I'm genuinely terrified of him, but they are still really good. I promise! 

PS. An added plus, they're gluten free because I find gluten free dough much easier to manipulate, so go crazy, celiacs. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Vegan Gluten-Free Banana Brownie Bread

I really never thought I'd be as into baking as I am at the moment. I like to call it 'rustic' baking because I could never bake and my baked goods always turn out pretty messy. It all goes back to my days of boycotting science in school. To me, baking is a science, and cooking is an art (AKA you can get away with there being 'no wrong answer'). Cooking is my therapy, but baking is like going back to chemistry class and failing miserably at getting my bunsen burner lit.

Since I've started the gluten-free thing, it's been pretty fun. I guess because I like a challenge, and let's be real, getting something to be tasty and gluten free (and vegan) is a challenge. I could still do with a workshop on Icing 101 but I'm getting there. Also, I kind of feel like if it's serving those vegan, organic foodie types, then I can get away with 'rustic'.

This guy is a sneaky one. It's pretty much everything free but doesn't taste like it. Maybe it's all the chocolate or maybe it's the banana but you could fool any junk food junkie with these.

If you have an excess of verging on too-ripe bananas (if you're unsure of what that looks like see below), here is your go-to recipe!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Crispy Chilli Brussel Sprout Flowers

The other day, as I was tediously grooming and cutting my brussel sprouts, I stumbled across something I doubt many people have stumbled across. Brussel sprouts can be pretty! They're actually a good candidate for major food porn, up there with the ramen burgers and deep fried croissants. At least they are to me. 

I realised this when I was being lazy with my cutting and decided to not really cut them properly and came up with what I like to call 'brussel sprout flowers'. 

They are life changing. I can already picture it. Little fingers and toes reaching for brussel sprouts in kitchens around the world and nixing the processed stuff. I realise I can't just blurt out such an extreme statement with out an explanation so here it is: nowadays, we've all had 'amazing' brussel sprouts once or twice in our gourmet restaurant excursions. Usually, that's because they're deep fried (and not 'amazing' for you) and anything deep fried is 'amazing'.  Sometimes they can be good when roasted, but the tops and outsides get crispy and the insides gets all soft and let's be real - brussel spout-ey. You see, like any complicated creature, brussel sprouts have layers. By making these 'flowers', (instructions to follow) each layer of these little guys is exposed and in turn, each layer is crispy. If we could all just make one little change to the way we make our brussel sprouts,  we could be on our way to making the world a better place!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

What Every Freezer Needs: Vegetable Stock

You may think this is not important but it is. The amount of times a so-called 'quick' recipe has called for stock and I've gotten stuck either with a not so quick recipe or having to use the awful salt-stuffed store bought stuff is a few times too many and I've taken an oath to make more stock in advance. It's  really just doing yourself a big favour in advance.

The good thing about this recipe is that it's not really a recipe. It's sort of just a template. It's perfect for those guilty out-of-date vegetable and herb keepers too.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Easy Gluten Free Oatmeal Pancakes

I don't know why I'm always last on the band wagon for pancake day. Even when I was a kid, all my friends in school would discuss their excitement for their after school pancakes and I'd arrive home, excited for my own but arrive to none. This might have been to do with living in an a very American household. My mother is extremely patriotic, Halloween, July 4th, Thanksgiving, are all major holidays in our home, but I guess she hadn't yet figured out the whole British thing and didn't no about Saint Pancake. In her defence, we did have plenty (and I don't mean that in the Ottolenghi sense, I mean PLENTY) of very good pancakes growing up, I guess on America's pancake day... AKA most Sunday mornings.

This year, I just about made it in time, although I admit, if any Pancake Day celebrators are looking for a recipe, I'm sure they've already found it by now, maybe between 2-3pm before it was time to pick up their excited little pancake-eyed kiddies. (As you can tell, I'm still a little bitter about my lack of Pancakes on Pancake Day).

To be honest, I rarely eat pancakes because someone once told me they expand in your stomach and that scared me. (I bet whoever that was is laughing now). However,  I think I've developed an non-expanding pancake recipe. I've been attempting going gluten-free recently so these are totally guilt free for those doing the same, but just as fluffy and good.